When a White Republican Gets Spied On, Privacy Suddenly Matters

As expected, much of today’s hearing on the Russian hack consisted of members of Congress — from both parties — posturing for the camera.

At first, it seemed that the Republican line of posturing — complaining about the leak that exposed Mike Flynn’s conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — tracked Donald Trump’s preferred approach, to turn this into a witch hunt for the leakers.

But it was actually more subtle than that. It appears Republicans believe the leaks about Flynn have (finally) made Congress skittish about incidental collection of US person communications as part of FISA collection. And so both Tom Rooney and Trey Gowdy spent much of their early hearing slots discussing how much more difficult the leak of Flynn’s name will make Section 702 reauthorization later this year. In the process, they should have created new fears about how painfully ignorant the people supposedly overseeing FISA are.

Rooney, who heads the subcommittee with oversight over NSA, started by quizzing Mike Rogers about the process by which a masked US person identity can be disclosed. Along the way, it became clear Rooney was talking about Section 702 reauthorization even while he was talking traditional FISA collection, which doesn’t lapse this year.

Rooney: If what we’re talking about is a serious crime, as has been alleged, in your opinion would leaking of a US person who has been unmasked and disseminated by intelligence community officials, would that leaking hurt or help our ability to conduct national security.

Rogers: Hurt.

Rooney: Ok, if it hurts, this leak, which through the 702 tool, which we all agree is vital–or you and I at least agree to that–do you think that that leak actually threatens our national security. If it’s a crime, and if it unmasks a US person, and this tool is so important it could potentially jeopardize this tool when we have to try to reauthorize it in a few months, if this is used against our ability to reauthorize this tool, and we can’t get it done because whoever did this leak, or these nine people that did this leak, create such a stir, whether it be in our legislative process or whatever, that they don’t feel confident a US person, under the 702 program, can be masked, successfully, and not leaked to the press, doesn’t that hurt–that leak–hurt our national security.

Eventually Admiral Rogers broke in to explain to his congressional overseer very basic facts about surveillance, including that Flynn was not and could not have been surveilled under Section 702.

Rogers: FISA collection on targets in the United States has nothing to do with 702, I just want to make sure we’re not confusing the two things here. 702 is collection overseas against non US persons.

Rooney: Right. And what we’re talking about here is incidentally, if a US person is talking to a foreign person that we’re listening to whether or not that person is unmasked.

Nevertheless, Rooney made it very clear he’s very concerned about how much harder the Flynn leak will make it for people like him to convince colleagues to reauthorize Section 702, which is even more of a privacy concern than traditional FISA.

Rooney: But it’s really going to hurt the people on this committee and you in the intelligence community when we try to retain this tool this year and try to convince some of our colleagues that this is really important for national security when somebody in the intelligence community says, you know what the hell with it, I’m gonna release this person’s name, because I’m gonna get something out of it. We’re all gonna be hurt by that. If we can’t reauthorize this tool. Do you agree with that?

A little later, Trey Gowdy got his second chance to complain about the leak. Referencing Rogers’ earlier explanation that only 20 people at NSA can unmask a US person identity, Gowdy tried to figure out how many at FBI could, arguing (this is stunning idiocy here) that by finding a finite number of FBI officials who could unmask US person identities might help assuage concerns about potential leaks of US persons caught in FISA surveillance.

Comey: I don’t know for sure as I sit here. Surely more, given the nature of the FBI’s work. We come into contact with US persons a whole lot more than the NSA does because we may be conducting — we only conduct our operations in the United States to collect electronic surveillance. I can find out the exact number. I don’t know it as I sit here.

Gowdy: I think Director Comey given the fact that you and I agree that this is critical, vital, indispensable. A similar program is coming up for reauthorization this fall with a pretty strong head wind right now, it would be nice to know the universe of people who have the power to unmask a US citizen’s name. Cause that might provide something of a road map to investigate who might have actually disseminated a masked US citizen’s name.

Here’s why this line of questioning from Gowdy is unbelievably idiotic. Both for traditional FISA, like the intercept targeting Kislyak that caught Flynn, and for Section 702, masking and unmasking identities at FBI is not the concern. That’s because the content from both authorities rests in FBI’s databases, and anyone cleared for FISA can access the raw data. And those FBI Agents not cleared for FISA can and are encouraged just to ask a buddy who is cleared to do it.

In other words, every Agent at FBI has relatively easy way to access the content on Flynn, so long as she can invent a foreign intelligence or criminal purpose reason to do so.

Which is probably why Comey tried to pitch something he called “culture” as adequate protection, rather than the very large number of FBI Agents who are cleared into FISA.

Comey: The number is … relevant. What I hope the US–the American people will realize is the number’s important but the culture behind it is in fact more important. The training, the rigor, the discipline. We are obsessive about FISA in the FBI for reasons I hope make sense to this committee. But we are, everything that’s FISA has to be labeled in such a way to warn people this is FISA, we treat this in a special way. So we can get you the number but I want to assure you the culture in the FBI and the NSA around how we treat US person information is obsessive, and I mean that in a good way.

So then Gowdy asks Comey something he really has a responsibility to know: what other agencies have Standard Minimization Procedures. (The answer, at least as the public record stands, is NSA, CIA, FBI, and NCTC have standard minimization procedures, with Main Justice using FBI’s SMPs.)

Gowdy: Director Comey I am not arguing with you and I agree the culture is important, but if there are 100 people who have the ability to unmask and the knowledge of a previously masked name, then that’s 100 different potential sources of investigation. And the smaller the number is, the easier your investigation is. So the number is relevant. I can see the culture is relevant. NSA, FBI, what other US government agencies have the authority to unmask a US citizen’s name?

Comey: Well I think all agencies that collect information pursuant to FISA have what are called standard minimization procedures which are approved by the FISA court that govern how they will treat US person information. So I know the NSA does, I know the CIA does, obviously the FBI does, I don’t know for sure beyond that.

Gowdy: How about Main Justice?

Comey: Main Justice I think does have standard minimization procedures.

Gowdy: Alright, so that’s four. NSA, FBI, CIA, Main Justice. Does the White House has the authority to unmask a US citizen’s name?

Comey: I think other elements of the government that are consumers of our can ask the collectors to unmask. The unmasking resides with those who collected the information. And so if Mike Rogers’ folks collected something, and they send it to me in a report and it says it’s US person #1 and it’s important for the FBI to know who that is, our request will go back to them. The White House can make similar requests of the FBI or NSA but they don’t on their own collect, so they can’t on their own unmask.

That series of answers didn’t satisfy Gowdy, because from his perspective, if Comey isn’t able to investigate and find a head for the leak of Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak — well, I don’t know what he thinks but he’s sure an investigation, possibly even the prosecution of journalists, is the answer.

Gowdy: I guess what I’m getting at Director Comey, you say it’s vital, you say it’s critical, you say that it’s indispensable, we both know it’s a threat to the reauthorization of 702 later on this fall and oh by the way it’s also a felony punishable by up to 10 years. So how would you begin your investigation, assuming for the sake of argument that a US citizen’s name appeared in the Washington Post and the NY Times unlawfully. Where would you begin that investigation?

This whole series of questions frankly mystifies me. I mean, these two men who ostensibly provide oversight of FISA clearly didn’t understand what the biggest risk to privacy is –back door searches of US person content — which at the FBI doesn’t even require any evidence of wrong-doing. That is the biggest impediment to reauthorizing FISA.

And testimony about the intricacies of unmasking a US person identity — particularly when a discussion of traditional FISA serves as stand-in for Section 702 — does nothing more than expose that the men who supposedly oversee FISA closely have no fucking clue — and I mean really, not a single fucking clue — how it works. Devin Nunes, too, has already expressed confusion on how access to incidentally collected US person content works.

Does anyone in the House Intelligence Committee understand how FISA works? Bueller?

In retrospect, I’m really puzzled by what is so damning about the Flynn leak to them. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m very sympathetic to the complaint that the contents of the intercepts did get leaked. If you’re not, you should be. Imagine how you’d feel if a Muslim kid got branded as a terrorist because he had a non-criminal discussion with someone like Anwar al-Awlaki? (Of course, in actual fact what happened is the Muslim kids who had non-criminal discussions with Awlaki had FBI informants thrown at them until they pressed a button and got busted for terrorism, but whatever.)

But Rooney and Gowdy and maybe even Nunes seemed worried that their colleagues in the House have seen someone like them — not a young Muslim, but instead a conservative white man — caught up in FISA, which has suddenly made them realize that they too have conversations all the time that likely get caught up in FISA?

Or are they worried that the public discussion of FISA will expose them for what they are, utterly negligent overseers, who don’t understand how invasive of privacy FISA currently is?

If it’s the latter, their efforts to assuage concerns should only serve to heighten those concerns. These men know so little about FISA they don’t even understand what questions to ask.

In any case, after today’s hearing I am beginning to suspect the IC doesn’t like to have public hearings not because someone like me will learn something, but because we’ll see how painfully little most of the so-called overseers have learned in all the private briefings the IC has given them. If these men don’t understand the full implications of incidental collection, two months after details of Flynn’s conversations have been leaked, then it seems likely they’ve been intentionally mis or underinformed.

Or perhaps they’re just not so bright.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

38 replies
  1. klynn says:

    I honestly saw these exchanges in the hearing as theater that in the end, revealed their lack of knowledge.

  2. greengiant says:

    My impression is that the masking unmasking discussion was an attempt by team Trump to validate the Obama “wiretap” tweet. Think they are going after who leaked, “transcripts”, and unmasking in order to tie it back to Obama White House per NYTimes article. Comey and Rogers probably have small clues, but if there were “bona fide” transcripts made inside or outside 702 outside of their knowledge, like they were unmasked under a Clapper minion for example or some paperless trail from the FBI or Secret Service Treasury computer crime unit or other TLA. All “not to my knowledge” answers are “white lies” like Clapper and Hayden used to make to conceal methods and sources.. The new way to buy influence is to buy a property or penthouse from Trump or Kushner. The joke of the day is breitbart ragging that Manafort has no Russian ties, like he only took in about 19 million in cash from Putin’s man in the Ukraine to pay for “lobbying” in DC. If anyone in DC has been doing their job then Trump should have been under investigation since at least the convention. Sucks to work at a TLA where everyone is corrupt. What a coincidence that the most rabid Wikileaks/Intercept/Snowden haters are now supposedly connecting the dots on Trump.

  3. jjohannson says:

    I didn’t find Adam Schiff’s prosecutorial narrative to be posturing at all. It felt somber, cogent and fraught with danger for the Republic.

    • emptywheel says:

      It also suffered from a huge error, in that he claimed the attack started in July as if it were a response to the change in platform. As the GOP laid out later in the hearing, the changes were not as often characterized. More important, the attack started in either March or June, depending on how you’re counting.

      But aside from that, sure.

      • Jim Snyder says:

        Marcy, long-time lurker.

        Could you explain what you mean by “changes were not as often characterized”?

        The relevant statement in the GOP platform reads “”We also support providing appropriate assistance to the armed forces of Ukraine …” (platform.pdf at gop.org, page 42, para 1.)

        I couldn’t find a copy of the draft of the platform; Politifact says the draft wasn’t made public.

        It’s been widely reported that the draft version of the platform specifically called for sending weapons to the Ukraine. Looks like that’s attributed to Diana Denman.

        Thanks …

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Being dim, forgetful, or uninformed is not a crime or even remarkable.  Knowing and not doing, knowing and approving, now those are different kettles of fish.

  5. h says:

    A couple of questions and thoughts.

    Marcy, there are others on the conservative aisle who also found Rep Stefanik’s line of questioning valuable. Eight months withholding information from Republican controlled committee oversight is not only reckless, it is political, which is what Gowdy, a fella you apparently think little of, did get into the record yesterday. You will recall he stated the leak didn’t serve national security or a criminality purpose to which Comey agreed. What’s left…politics.

    Ask yourself, if the House Intel Committee was truly in an investigative posture yesterday, why didn’t they ask Comey or Rogers, while under oath, if they leaked details to the media? Why is it that we are just led to assume their hands are clean?

    Second, in your post yesterday, you point out Comey’s testimony that the head of the FBI Counterintelligence community made the decision to withhold info on the investigation from congress, the Gang of 4 or 8, whichever, for eight months. Maybe it’s just me, but no matter the excuse for withholding information from those who supposedly serve as the people’s watchdog, ‘the sensitivity of the matter’ crappola fed by Comey basically made the case the entirety of this massive waste of the people’s time is in fact political.

    Think about it. If the only people who were in the loop of this investigation for eight months were Obama and his political appointees – Clapper, Comey, Brennan, Rice, Rhodes, Lynch and Yates – does that not fit the very definition of a political witch hunt? Dislike Trump and Republicans all you wish, but don’t be blinded by what was truly testified to and what was not put into the record during yesterday’s farce of a hearing.

    • klynn says:

      When addressing foreign infiltration it is a challenge to decide how to take steps to inform because you may not know “how many” are inside the gate.  Withholding information and slowing the process in fact made the case that the entirety of all of this is NOT political — it is about security. Think about it. They are trying to answer the question, “How far does this go within our government and who can we trust because we may be risking showing our sources to foreign sources on the inside?” I know I would delay and hold back. Comey was simply “doing what was the needed choice at the time and apologize later.” The worst part of yesterday — yes the leaks are an issue but for the GOP members of the committee to be more focused on the leaks makes them look really bad.  Their focus should be: make sure we find the foreign threats inside and in the course of addressing that, we will probably find the leaks.” Seriously, people have been killed who are close to all of this. People have been arrested. The web of Russian contacts and “off the books” meetings by Trump and his inner circle and the risk to national security through influence with this web and evidence of meetings makes an investigation deeply needed. This is not a farce and witch hunt.

      • h says:

        Klynn – I sincerely appreciate your thoughtful response.

        Your suggestion that “withholding information and slowing the process in fact made the case that the entirety of all of this is NOT political — it is about security” is not the answer Comey gave in response to Gowdy’s line of questioning. I’m only able to respond to what he affirmed.

        We are going to have to agree to disagree on your point regarding Comey and et al intentionally and deliberately withholding information from congress for 8 months. What I am unwilling to accept is that the People do not vote for appointees. We vote for individuals we the People believe will serve our districts, regions and/or states. Thus, for 8 months individuals who were never empowered by the voters took it upon themselves to withhold critical information from the voters representatives, and then chose to blindside those elected officials and the public in yesterday’s hearing. You may find this political appointee role acceptable, I do not.

        You prove my point, that this Russian farce is political when you are only looking on one side of the political aisle when saying ‘the web of Russian contacts and ‘off the books’ meetings by Trump…” One can believe such information all they want, but facts matter especially as you correctly observe ‘people have been killed…people have been arrested’.

        What factually substantiated evidence do you possess that the rest of us do not have? I’ve certainly read a ton of factually cited material about Clinton’s ‘web’ and ‘off the books meetings’ not to mention the numerous meetings her associates held with Kislyack, but so what? When did it become a crime to meet with counterparts from other countries, break bread with them or do a speaking engagement. I don’t blame Clinton for wishing to build and nurture her network of foreign contacts just as it would never occur to me to suggest the Trump team was criminal for doing so.

        The entire business of politics is based on networks. It’s your network and the trusted relationships built over time that makes one a meaningful player in the world of politics. It’s what you do.

        To turn such a normal business practice into something devious is beyond silly. Few reasonable people find Flynn’s yakking it up with whomever was in his network during the transition a violation of national security. If folks do find such conversations, even about sanctions, criminal then the same principle must be applied to leadership on both sides of the aisle. And if you apply that same principle to all leadership well then guess what, the entire political system would become neutered and the U.S. isolated.

        National security is not a partisan issue. It is an American issue. And having partisan appointees withhold vital information from the People’s representatives for eight months is unacceptable no matter the narrative one has bought into.

        • klynn says:

          A “no risk of foreign influence within the WH” response.  Sounds very WH.

          Help us all understand how to best “walk” this out 8 months ago.

          Flynn is the small fish and not the biggest focus.

    • maybe ryan says:

      Yes, Comey led a political witch hunt on behalf of the candidate whose candidacy he did incredible damage to by opening up the Weiner laptop issue publically when he did.  I’m sure you’re right that he’s been in the bag for Democrats all along.  What else you got?

      Incidentally, whenever someone starts saying “We the People” as if it could only possibly support their point of view, I know I’m dealing with a charlatan.

      • h says:

        maybe ryan – believe it or not, I concur with your sentiment regarding Comey’s actions and the Weiner laptop. If he wasn’t going to investigate it he should never have announced the reopening of the case and then abruptly closed it. That action in my opinion was absolutely wrong.

        And as for name calling, why is it people feel a need to show such disrespect toward someone they know nothing about? I don’t get it. It only makes the individual casting such unfounded aspersions look small minded. I don’t want to believe that’s who you are or what you may intend. Rather, I want to believe you’re someone who has bothered themselves to fortify their understanding of what in the world is going on in the world of politic. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here at EW’s site.

        But to answer your accusation, I happen to be an old fart who honestly gives a hoot about representative governance. Those 435 congress critters represent us, We the People, and in order for them to be effective on our behalf, Dem, Rep or Indy, they must have credible information provided to them on a timely basis by the Executive branch, especially. In this case a political appointee chose to withhold vital information. That pisses me off. It doesn’t make me a ‘charlatan’.

        • John Casper says:

          h,

          Isn’t a little early to play the victim card?

          Nobody asked your age. Since you volunteered it, how old are you? Since you’re a “an old fart,” you know this place doesn’t run on air. I donated more than $300 last year. Hope to give more this year. Have you donated yet?

          You wrote, “believe it or not, I concur with your sentiment regarding Comey’s actions and the Weiner laptop.” Does Rep. Gowdy, who you defended above, agree with you?

        • Evangelista says:

           

          maybe ryan and h,

          Comey re-opening the clintonmail server investigation under the circumstances he did (an election and all) does not indicate about Comey, it indicates correlation between content on the clitonmail server and the Weiner laptop, and that the indicated correlative content was HOT (as it was other where also indicated, including content ‘cleansed’ by the Clinton Lawyers Team from the clintionmail server before release of the self-defined ‘relevant’ content was provided to “law-enforcement” for ‘security-verification’ checking.

          The only thing indicated about Comey by the re-opening was that Comey saw an immediate ASAP need to cover his (and the FIB’s) arse, damn elections, damn political bias, damn all other ramification.

          The subsequent re-closing indicated that the danger posed by the frightening Weiner Laptop content, on examination, and probably consultation with Weiner’s espionage up-line (undercover, the FIB being in bed with them) was containable, and would not be let escape to the Public.

          If you remember, Weiner and Abedin had been separated for considerable time, with the laptop in Weiner’s possession, wherefore the Weiner Laptop had not for a long time had legitimate capability of access (via Abedin) to private and “secure” data on the clintonmail server.

          It doesn’t take a whole lot of intelligence or education to recognize that international espionage was involved, involving State Department access facilitated by Clinton and her email server, with Weiner’s Laptop a conduit, channeling classified U.S. State materials to ‘interested “allies”…’.

          Had Clinton won the election the whole matter could have been swept under the rug and furniture moved to cover the stain.  Clinton having lost, the mess and the stain remained and bin-loads of bullshit have been blown everywhere all around to obscure and dilute, to mix in and cover, to provide sufficient confusion to provide sufficient obfuscation to permit adequate deniability, so that ‘business as usual’ may continue and silence to be maintained among the lambs.

           

  6. lefty665 says:

    “Or perhaps they’re just not so bright.”  As Kathleen Turner put it in the movie “Body Heat”, “Just how I like my men,  not  too  smart”.  cui bono?

    • lefty665 says:

      Jeez, are we both geezers or what? My quote was “only” 35 years old:)  (that’s a le Carre Smiley)  Maybe there really is nothing new under the sun.

  7. John Casper says:

    h,

    You’re not a conservative.

    “Ask yourself,” h “if the” Republican controlled “House Intel Committee was truly in an investigative posture yesterday, why didn’t they ask Comey or Rogers, while under oath, if they leaked details to the media? Why is it that we are just led to assume their hands are clean?”

    h, why do you find it acceptable that “for 8 months individuals who were never empowered by the voters took it upon themselves to withhold critical information from the voters representatives, and then chose to blindside those elected officials and the public in yesterday’s hearing?” If you don’t find it “acceptable,” why are you not railing against Republicans–who control the executive and legislative branches–for not holding anyone accountable?

    Since you haven’t heard of Scooter Libby, buy this excellent book. https://www.amazon.com/Anatomy-Deceit-Bush-Administration-Media/dp/0979176107

    What has Rep. Gowdy done that would warrant me not thinking “little of him?” In your second comment you wrote, “I don’t blame Clinton for wishing to build and nurture her network of foreign contacts just as it would never occur to me to suggest the Trump team was criminal for doing so.” WRT Sec. Clinton, does Rep. Gowdy agree?

    “Think about it,” h. “If the only people who were in the loop of this investigation for eight months were Obama and his political appointees – Clapper, Comey, Brennan, Rice, Rhodes, Lynch and Yates – does that not fit the very definition of a political witch hunt? Dislike” conservatives “all you wish, but don’t be blinded by what was truly testified to and what was not put into the record during yesterday’s farce of a hearing.”

    “National security is not a partisan issue. It is an American issue. And having partisan appointees withhold vital information from the People’s representatives for eight months is unacceptable no matter the narrative one has bought into.”

    • h says:

      John Casper – you are correct, I am not a conservative. I gave up identity/partisan politics long ago. There are some policies I’m conservative on while others I am more liberal.

      Why am I not holding R’s accountable? Well, isn’t that obvious? What Rep’s in leadership were read in on the FBI’s investigation up until Coates was read in on what, Monday? How does one hold such a body accountable when they only just learned of the counter intelligence investigation yesterday. What am I missing here?

      And btw, I haven’t a clue what Gowdy thinks. He’s one that I wouldn’t waste my time on trying to figure out. Reminds me of a chameleon.

      • P J Evans says:

        You’re missing that they’re more afraid of what the investigation into the Russian connections will find than in who’s leaking. They don’t want that Russian investigation to happen at all.

      • John Casper says:

        h,

        You wrote, “I gave up identity/partisan politics long ago.”

        This morning you wrote, “Eight months withholding information from Republican controlled committee oversight is not only reckless, it is political, which is what Gowdy, a fella you apparently think little of, did get into the record yesterday.”

        Sounds pretty “partisan” for Republicans and Rep. Gowdy. Was  “withholding” the “information” from Democrats less “reckless,” less “political?”

        Was this morning “long ago?”

        Do you donate to candidates, or causes at the local, state, federal, or international level? Do you vote in local, state, or federal elections?

        You wrote, “There are some policies I’m conservative on while others I am more liberal.” Since you volunteered that, on what policies do you consider yourself “conservative” and “liberal,” thanks in advance.

        WRT donating to this site, do you consider yourself a “conservative” or a “liberal?”

  8. SpaceLifeForm says:

    The continuous snowjob where IC keeps the oversight (FISC, Big 8) in the dark.

    The numbers keep climbing, it has went from a handful, to 9, then 20, then 1000 that could have leaked Flynn stuff (or others, but that is beside the point).  The point is that people are going to wake up that it is thousands, many thousands.   All over the world, not just US.

    SS7 is not your friend.  When congresscriters start talking about SS7, then some traction will develop.   But as long as FISC and Congress repeatedly get confused over FISA,  702, and 12333, they will never understand SS7.

    Remember Edward Snowden said he could tap the president.   Why would anyone with a half a brain think that such capability has magically disappeared in the last 4 years?

    Nothing, nothing has changed to secure SS7.

    NOTHING.

     

     

    Related to snow (highly recommend for spy vs spy background and how it ties to NSA):

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wired.com/2013/09/boyce-qa/amp/

     

    Note when this happened, facilities that were highly secured, meaning access to many levels of locked doors had to be granted in order to reach TS ops rooms, some went from like 5 to 2 overnight.  One facility was no longer deemed to require lots of hoops to jump thru.   Many years later, it was abandonded, not because of the leak, but because the tech was so much better.

    Leaks are actually wake-up calls.

     

    • lefty665 says:

      SS7 was secure enough to keep kids with Cap’n Crunch whistles from making free long distance calls. You want more than that?

      It does not get much attention these days, but AT&T was keeping recordings of all long distance calls long before NSA got into the wholesale domestic eavesdropping business. It still does.

      Are your SS7 concerns that it is so vulnerable almost anyone can get in (the 2017 equivalent of Cap’n Crunch), that it is profoundly easy for NSA, FBI, GCHQ, et al to monitor us all, both, or more?

       

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        This.

        For readers, the old tech was in-band signaling. So, your keywords to get you started are:
        2600
        Phreaking
        Joe Engressia (aka Whistler and Joybubbles)
        John Draper
        (also Local switches and Long Distance switches)
        Nixon toilet paper

        SS7 is out-of-band signaling, the new tech.

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signalling_System_No._7

        Several SS7 vulnerabilities that allow cell phone users to be secretly tracked were publicized in 2008.[13] In 2014, the media reported a protocol vulnerability of SS7 by which both government agencies and non-state actors can track the movements of cell phone users from virtually anywhere in the world with a success rate of approximately 70%.[14] In addition, eavesdropping is possible by using the protocol to forward calls and also facilitate decryption by requesting that each caller’s carrier release a temporary encryption key to unlock the communication after it has been recorded.[15] Karsten Nohl (de) created a tool (SnoopSnitch) which can warn when certain SS7 attacks occur against a phone and detect IMSI-catchers.[16][17]

        In February 2016, 30% of the network to the largest mobile operator in Norway, Telenor, became unstable due to “Unusual SS7 signalling from another European operator”[18][19]

        In April 2016, US congressman Ted Lieu called for an oversight committee investigation, saying:

        The applications for this vulnerability are seemingly limitless, from criminals monitoring individual targets to foreign entities conducting economic espionage on American companies to nation states monitoring US government officials. … The vulnerability has serious ramifications not only for individual privacy, but also for American innovation, competitiveness and national security. Many innovations in digital security – such as multi-factor authentication using text messages – may be rendered useless.[20]

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        BTW, you made me LOL re Cap’n Crunch.
        People nearby asked why.
        I asked them if they ever heard of the cereal.
        Sure, some said.
        Then, I asked if they ever heard about the whistle.

        SILENCE.

        This tells how out of the loop people are when it comes to tech. Probably Wyden and Lieu are the only congressmen that have heard about a Cap’n Crunch whistle and 2600.

        The rest are distracted and/or have their heads in the sand, with their blinders on, searching for their rose coloured glasses.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor does predate Kasdan’s Body Heat by over half a decade. But then Casablanca predates it by four decades.

    • lefty665 says:

      Shocked, I’m shocked. Imagine, the FBI holding out on the gang of 4, 8, whatever because it was too sensitive.  Congress can’t let that precedent stand, or can they? Are they really that dumb?

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The usual response is that, with several obvious exceptions, they’re not that dumb.  They’re going along for their own reasons, knowing full well where the caravan of Bentleys team Trump is riding in is headed.  It is not a novel dynamic inside the Beltway.

    • lefty665 says:

      Makes sense, and expect you’ve got a pretty good read on the institutional IQ. Funny that about the only people supporting Trump are the folks who have been screwed that he promised the moon to.  The pols of both parties can’t stand the erratic stuff, or that he might actually have been serious about draining the swamp.  They have had things arranged just the way they like them. Expect the alligator tears will be flowing as the Bentleys go off the edge. We are living in interesting times, and it is a curse.

  11. Evangelista says:

    Does anyone want to take a bet that a quick and easy way to make the bullshit of an Obama Administration enacted wire-tapping of Trump Tower (unsupported by evidence) go away would be to make its counter-weighing load of bullshit, the Trump-and-Russians hacking of everybody-and-dog in the 2016 election (unsupported by evidence) go away?

    Those pushing the “Russian hackers” ‘narrative’, being shown more and more in every way every day to be lying away can be seen to be backing away, toward the beaches, attempting to get out of the septic-sea of their groundless accusation-making, while Trump’s counter-bullshit-with-bullshit counter-accusation, after being expanded to include the British Garbage Carping Head Quarters and Manurings-numbering services (in response to the British Bull-Blower Chrissy Steele’s espio-porn production) seems to be only circling in a holding-pattern.  Time may be running out to get your bets in on this one…

     

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I don’t know that anyone in NYC or inside the Beltway gave the slightest credence to Trump’s campaign meme that he would “drain the swamp”. If he were to drain it, it would be to ensure that he was the last man standing and able to profit from it. Sadly, many Americans most harmed by neoliberalism’s priorities may well have believed Trump, just as their counterparts in the UK believed that leaving the EU would reduce their country’s headlong pursuit of neoliberal policies that most harm them. Both will be dramatically disappointed, but will be incessantly encouraged to blame the Left for it.

    We probably need an open post or post on Gorsuch. I hate the meme that he should be appointed because he is sooo qualified. That is the minimum qualification for a lifelong appointment to the Supremes. His politics are not ancillary to his appointment, they are fundamental to it. As Whitehouse explained, we should have learned our lesson on that score from the Roberts appointment.

    • lefty665 says:

      “Sadly, many Americans most harmed by neoliberalism’s priorities may well have believed Trump”. Bizarre that both parties have abandoned the working people of the country and left the field to a profoundly narcissistic real estate developer. If (when) he fails my fear is that the swing next time will be wilder. Neither party has credibility.  Dunno how we follow an election with the two most disliked nominees in history.

      My thoughts exactly about Gorsuch earlier today. We’ve been here before with Roberts (and Alito), and that has not worked out very well. The Dems do not appear to have either the will or the organization to make a hard stand.

      • John Casper says:

        Yep.

        AFAIK, private equity groups–who, along with hedge funds control the pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, university endowments–control the main-stream media. They shape the narrative. TPP’s coming.

        “Pension funds are so large that they will bubble-up any financial market they are allowed to enter— and what goes up must come down. The problem really is that managed money, taken as a whole, is simply too large to be supported by the nation’s ability to produce the output and income necessary to provide a foundation for the financial assets and debts that exist even in the aftermath of the financial crisis.”

        https://www.amazon.com/Rise-Fall-Money-Manager-Capitalism/dp/1138650161

  13. klynn says:

    eoh…”Drain the swamp” has a very different meaning for Trump and his followers as well as influencers.

    It is a Dugin used phrase and a call to white nationalists. Go look at his profile at Katehon. This is not a bad read either:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-dugin-trump-putin-turkey-20170203-story.html

    Additionally, one of the most important points made yesterday, and there is plenty of evidence, was the following from Comey:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/fbi-director-james-comey-intel-hearing-on-russian-election-interference-2017-3

    Now, I am not a Comey fan but the point made at the hearing and addressed in this article is one that many who understand how to see and track this kind op saw building to extreme levels over a year before the election. The volume was highly unusual. The confidence level was a major flag.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Whose confidence level are you referring to?

      All we know at this point is that there is a big snowjob going on. But who is blowing the snow is not clear at this point.

      Likely due to lack of visibility.

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